Unvaccinated staff at a company in northern Italy have accused their employer of discrimination after they say they were forced to work “in a filthy storeroom full of animal excrement”.
The claims come a few days after Italy became the first country in Europe to implement a strict Covid-19 vaccine mandate for private and public sector workers. All workers now have to present proof of vaccination, immunity, or of a negative test taken within the previous 48 hours.
The staff at the company in Lombardy said they were banned from the main office building despite having shown proof of a negative test. Instead, they say, they were sent to work in a storeroom containing “makeshift workstations surrounded by bits of wreckage”.
In a video shared on social media, the space appeared to have been unused for some time, with desks and chairs piled on top of one another, dirty toilets and animal excrement on an electrical socket and ceiling.
The video also contained a letter from the company to staff saying that only those who showed proof of vaccination would have access to the main building and canteen.
The owner of the company, which has not been named, told the Ansa news agency the measure was necessary to protect staff: “We separated those who are completely secure from those who are less so.” The owner said they had not personally checked the conditions in the alternative workspace.
People who flout Italy’s workplace “green pass” rules face being suspended without pay or fined up to €1,500 (£1,270). Employers can be fined for failing to check if staff are complying.
The aim is to increase inoculations and contain infections in the hope of avoiding another lockdown. The number of people booking their first vaccination dose has increased since Friday, while more than 1m green passes were downloaded on Monday.